Newsletter : 4fax1227.txt
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Biblical Relic is a Fraud
By VOA News
A carved ivory pomegranate that scholars once believed to be the only relic from the
temple of King Solomon is a fake. Officials from the Israel Museum said examination of the
pomegranate revealed that it is older than originally thought. Experts determined that it
dates back to the Bronze period, long before the first Jewish Temple. The examination also
revealed that a Hebrew inscription that led to the belief that the pomegranate was the
head of a scepter carried by temple priests is a forgery of modern times. The museum
bought the carving from an anonymous collector for more than $500,000. Officials said the
pomegranate was authenticated before its purchase, and before the newer testing methods
that led to the re-assessment.
Israelis Stranded in Indonesia Tragedy
By IsraelNationalNews.com & Ha'aretz
Hundreds of Israeli families were worrying and waiting Sunday night as the Foreign
Ministry tried to track down more than 1,000 Israeli citizens touring in the devastated
areas in Southeast Asia.
Several Israelis were injured, including some "seriously" on the island of Phuket near
southern Thailand, according to the Foreign Ministry, and some have been hospitalized.
About 13 others are on an island near India and have not made contact with authorities.
India, Thailand and Indonesia are popular havens for young Israelis who frequently tour
the area for several months after Army duty. Foreign Ministry ordered consular workers to
try to overcome communications breakdowns to reach stranded or injured Israelis.
One Israeli tour guide on Phuket reported his group felt tremors from the huge tidal
waves, which hit a different part of the island. He said they were stranded in the middle
of the island, where the bridge to the mainland was destroyed. Their hotel was one of the
few that were not severely damaged.
The Foreign Ministry is trying to find means to rescue the group, as well as another one
on a nearby island.
The death toll has reached at least 11,300 and has risen almost hourly since the first
tidal waves, which registered 8.9 on the Richter scale as the world's most powerful
earthquake in 40 years- rocked large parts of the region Sunday, triggering tidal waves
and killing thousands of people. At least 4,422 people have died in Indonesia, 3,538 in
Sri Lanka, 3,000 in India, and 310 in Thailand.
The quake, the strongest since a 9.2 magnitude temblor in Alaska in 1964 - struck
around breakfast time off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, about 1,000
miles northwest of Jakarta, the capital, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was 6 miles
deep, and was followed by a half-dozen powerful aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from
almost 6 to 7.3. The quake occurred at a place where several huge geological plates push
against each other with massive force. The survey said a 620-mile section along the
boundary of the plates shifted, motion that triggered the sudden displacement of a huge
volume of water. The reverberations sent waves as high as 20 feet thundering into the
coasts of six countries, sweeping away tourists, fishermen, hotels, homes and cars.
"We initially thought it was a terrorist attack, then the wave came and we just kept
running upstairs to get on as high ground as we could," Gerrard Donnelly, a British
tourist, staying at a resort in Phuket, Thailand, told Sky News.
Israeli Cabinet Adopts Measures to Support Palestinian Elections
By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's cabinet adopted a series of measures Sunday, aimed at facilitating Palestinian
elections on January 9. Their approval means Palestinians will be given far greater
freedom of movement than they have known for the past four years. It also allows
candidates limited campaigning in East Jerusalem, and orders the Israeli military to pull
out of all Palestinian population centers in the final days before the vote.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the cabinet approval greatly important. He said it
is important to make it clear to the whole world that Israel allowed free, fair and
The cabinet decision to allow Palestinian political activity in Jerusalem has limits.
Candidates will be allowed to hang posters and distribute campaign literature, but rallies
in public places will not be permitted. Palestinians will be allowed to conduct a survey
in East Jerusalem to determine who is eligible to vote, but only those Palestinians with
West Bank residency will be allowed to register. Israel adopted similar policies during
the last Palestinian presidential election in 1996.
Israel and the Palestinians both want Jerusalem as their capital. Resolving those
competing claims is one of the greatest obstacles to a peace agreement.
Prominent Palestinian figures appealed on Sunday for an end to violence, adding weight
to the election campaign of moderate Mahmoud Abbas to succeed Yasir Arafat as president of
the Palestinian Authority. Abbas, a former Palestinian prime minister, launched his
campaign on Saturday, promising to pursue a peace agreement with Israel and the eventual
creation of a Palestinian state. In a speech Sunday, he said it is unacceptable to use
arms to achieve Palestinian independence.
The remarks to a group of some 200 Palestinian businessmen seemed more conciliatory in
tone than remarks he made Saturday, in which he said he would not take up arms against
Palestinian militants to get them to stop violence against Israel. He said he would try
to convince militants to end violence, but by agreement, rather than by confronting, or
arresting them as was done in 1996. Israel has signaled their intention to work with
Abbas, a man they see as a moderate.
Small Israeli Settlement in Gaza Agrees to Voluntary Evacuation
By VOA News
Israel says residents of a small Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip have agreed to
relocate to Israel, rather than resist the planned removal of all settlers from the
occupied territory next year. The official in charge of the Israeli government plan to
evacuate all 8,000 Gaza settlers next year says 25 families in the Pe'at Sadeh settlement
will voluntarily move together to southern Israel in March.
The settlement would be the first to be dismantled under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
evacuation plan, which has drawn calls for resistance from the top settler council. The
Sharon government has offered cash incentives for Gaza settlers willing to leave before
the withdrawal, which is scheduled to begin in about eight months.
IDF Student Cadet Expelled for Political Views
A young cadet in the IDF Officers Training School has been expelled from the school
because he said he would not fulfill orders, if given, to destroy Jewish communities.
The soldier was taking part in a class on democratic ideals and refusal. The issue
arose during discussion about last year's "Pilots' Letter," in which a group of Israel Air
Force pilots wrote that they would refuse to drop bombs on residential areas used by
terrorists to hide. During the course of the class, the commander said that the army would
not tolerate refusal under any circumstances, and that he himself would volunteer to
evacuate Jewish communities in Yesha.
The soldier in question - a resident of Karnei Shomron in northwestern Samaria who
serves in the Engineering Corps - was unable to remain silent, and said that there was no
room for comparison between the two issues. He made it clear that he would refuse an order
to take part in demolishing Jewish communities.
The soldier's father told Yediot Achronot, "My son said that the refusal of the pilots,
who in the middle of a war announced that they would not fight, is not the same as
ideological refusal to expel citizens from their homes and destroy Jewish communities in
the Land of Israel. He said that the evacuation of communities is a badge of shame for the
country, and that the comparison to the pilots who refused is inflammatory."
Col. Gal Hirsch, commander of the Officers School, in consultation with other officers,
spoke with the soldier, who repeated his claims and said that the disengagement plan
"stands in opposition to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence." Hirsch then
removed him from the course, for reasons of "unsuitability" and "unbecoming behavior."
The soldier's father, Vitaly Vovnoboy, who made aliyah from one of the former Soviet
Union countries in the late 1980s, told Army Radio that he is proud of his son. "An order
to evacuate communities is a blatantly illegal order, which no one is allowed to fulfill.
If they tell the soldiers to conquer the Knesset, would they be expected to fulfill that
order?" He added that when he was in the Diaspora, "I dreamt for a long time that my son
would serve in the Israel Defense Forces." The father also said, "I taught him that the
IDF is a humanitarian, strong, and thinking army. But now he sees that the army... creates
a situation in which soldiers and officers are afraid to sound their views and to ask
questions. This is the true danger, not my son."
Hirsch, in February of this year, also removed a cadet from an officers' course after
he expressed harsh criticism of then Chief of Staff Sha'ul Mofaz, now the Defense
Minister. The would-be officer criticized Mofaz for the way he handled the October 2000
incident at Joseph's Tomb - in which soldier Madhat Yusuf bled to death while the army
waited for PA forces to allow Israel to rescue him.
Likud Knesset member Ayoub Kara, who led an unsuccessful public campaign at the time to
have the student reinstated, spoke with Arutz-7 about Hirsch's apparent tendency to oust
students because of their political views, He said, "It's a terrible thing for an army to
do. In this [latest] case, the student is not refusing orders, but merely expressed his
view about what he would do if and when he faces the situation. To oust a student from the
course because of his views?"
ADL Head Tells Knesset to "Play Down" Aliyah
Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, has told Israeli government
officials that Israel should hesitate before "inviting" Jews of the Diaspora to
"Say, 'Yes, we want all Jews,' but don't pronounce and don't invite them in times of
crisis because it undermines their safety," Foxman told the Knesset committee on
Immigration and Absorption. "If there is one decision that impacts on the safety and
security which is counterproductive to what Israel is all about, it is when it comes to
Foxman was referring to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's statements this past summer to
the French Jewish community to escape anti-Semitic attacks there and move to Israel.
Sharon has long promoted plans to bring one million Jews to Israel over the next 10-15
years, including hundreds of thousands from the United States.
Foxman recently lambasted an American radio broadcaster's comment about Israel to a
Jewish caller, saying the remark was anti-Semitic. The listener had complained that he was
offended by Christian attempts to convert him, and the broadcaster told him that America
was a Christian country by majority, and concluded, "You gotta go to Israel."
Groups such as Nefesh b'Nefesh, an organization assisting aliyah from North America, as
well as the grassroots Kumah movement, have been actively encouraging mass immigration of
Jews to Israel. More than 200 North American singles are scheduled to arrive in Israel
this week on a Nefesh b'Nefesh flight.
Tnuva to Market Non-Kosher Meat
Tnuva, Israel's largest agricultural marketer, has signed a sales agreement with a
non-kosher meat company, Knesset Member Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) revealed
The meat company, Tiv Taam, will keep its factory totally separate from Tnuva's meat
plants, according to Tnuva, but Porush expressed fears that the deal would encourage other
companies to process non-kosher meat. Tiv Taam operates in Bet Shean, south of Lake
Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and is opening up a chain of non-kosher stores in the Tel Aviv
area, Porush said.
The chain, slated to be one of the largest in the country, "is worrisome and is a red
light for all of those who want to preserve the character of a Jewish country," Porush
added. "Keeping the foundations of Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) is an historical
contribution in the Jewish character," Porush wrote in a letter to Tnuva chief executive
officer Arik Reichman. He also suggested that many consumers would stop buying any
products from Tnuva.
Reichman caused a storm of protests two months ago when he labeled communities in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) a "cancer." Thousands of Israelis boycotted Tnuva's milk
products until he admitted he should not have expressed his personal opinions in an
offensive way, but he refused to apologize for his stand.
"It seems you have a tendency to provoke," Porush wrote Reichman." You barely got over
Tnuva's awful announcement against Yesha residents and now you have chosen to sir up a
fight, this time on kosher food in the country." He emphasized that an overwhelming
majority of Israeli Jews keep Jewish dietary laws. Porush said it is questionable whether
strict observers of dietary laws would continue to buy Tnuva's products.
Israel and the PA to Launch Joint Tourism Campaign
Following a meeting between the Directors General of the Israeli and Palestinian
Ministries of Tourism, Israel and the Palestinian Authority will spend $500,000 on a joint
marketing campaign to attract tourists to the Holy Land.
Tourism Ministry Director-General Eli Cohen and PA tourism official Dr. Bajis Ismail
agreed on the plan during their meeting the first week of December. The campaign will
target Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Symbols of both ministries will
appear on advertisements promoting tourism to the Holy Land. Israeli Tourism Minister
Gideon Ezra also met with Palestinian Tourism and Antiquities Minister Mitri Abu Aita near
Bethlehem last week to discuss this and other joint ventures.
Thirteen thousand pilgrims, including 4,700 Israeli-Arab Christians visited Bethlehem
during Christmas. In the first 11 months of 2004, 1,358,400 tourists entered Israel, 44
percent more than during the same period last year. Israel Tourism Ministry officials
predict approximately 1.7 million visitors will arrive in 2005.
A Technical Gold Mine in the Israeli Desert
B.G. Negev Technologies and Applications Ltd., the commercial arm of Ben-Gurion
University, is not only making the Negev bloom as envisioned by Israel's first prime
minister David Ben-Gurion. It's also putting the southern desert region on the
international map as an important center of applied research.
One B.G. Negev project involves a BGU researcher who has succeeded in creating human
monoclonal antibodies that can neutralize the highly contagious smallpox virus without
inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine. Another BGN project will
reduce the frequency of power supply disturbances that play havoc with consumer electronic
These and other novel technologies discovered or invented at the university provide BGN
with a broad range of products from fields as diverse as biotechnology, pharmaceutics,
medical diagnostics and microelectronics. Much of the research and development at the
University is performed within its interdisciplinary research centers, which include the
Institutes for Applied Research, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, the
Ben-Gurion Research Center, the Institute for Applied Biosciences, and the new Center for
Meso and Nanoscale Science and Technology.
"Our job is to serve as a link between industry and academic research," Dr. Ora
Horovitz, Vice President of Business Development at BGN, told ISRAEL21c. Horovitz, a
molecular biologist, was involved in product development for eight years before she took
on the job of technology transfer.
"BGN helps university faculty 'translate' their inventions and academic achievements
into commercially valuable products. We facilitate technology transfer to existing
companies or create new startup companies."
A $3 million Biotech/Pharm Fund managed by BGN helps to transfer inventions and
innovations from the lab to the marketplace. In the last three years, two of the 11
projects funded have already been commercialized and another three are under negotiation.
BGN's ongoing business contacts include major Israeli and international companies Teva,
Elop, Dead Sea Works, Ares Serono, GE, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Israel Military Industries,
Compugen, Nur Macroprinters, Nice, Frutarom and Estee Lauder.
"The continuous flow of ideas and innovations from BGU's faculty and students provides
BGN with a gold mine of new business opportunities," said Horovitz.
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